Semester Wrap-Up with Myself

Sounds kind of silly, but I have a little ritual for closing up my semester. I clean out my course binder of extra photocopies, remove stuff from previous semesters that I didn’t use this semester and can’t imagine using in future semester, write a course reflection, insert reflection into the front of the binder, and put away the binder.

Even though I’m exhausted, I think it’s important to do the course reflection NOW while the semester’s experience is still fresh. Here’s how I go about it: Continue reading

Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

… which post was the fairest of them all?  I am not referring to this blog; rather, this question was posed to my upper-division students in their final informal out-of-class writing assignment. Over the course of the semester, they have written at least once a week in a GoogleDoc visible to me and that student [I resist the urge to call it a journal.]. Each time, they respond to a prompt. I grade these P/nP. To P, you have to follow directions and present your own thinking. I also respond (usually in a colored font) to their ideas and thoughts, which often starts a conversation between us within the GoogleDoc. Here are a few examples of prompts, which ran the gamut from hard core to touchy-feely. Continue reading

Exploring the Middle Ground: Visit #3

Next Wednesday will be our final visit of three to our Museum “classroom.”

In planning this visit, I involved the students more directly than before. After our second visit, we brainstormed some ideas for our third visit.  Those ideas included the compositional process (in our class, we wrestle with attributing intention to the composer when we really shouldn’t, but if we knew about the compositional process we could sometimes attribute intention to a composer), authenticity (viewing the “real” work as opposed to reproductions and what does that mean in music), and –more generally– picking favorite works in the museum to explore. The class showed the most interest in investigating the compositional process. I sent that idea back to the museum educators and they replied with various options for studying the process of creation. None were ideal, most were exciting to us, and here’s what we chose: Continue reading

evaluation squared: evaluating my evaluation process

Last week, I experimented with administering my anonymous informal evaluations on-line.  I ran it pretty much as described here, with one exception: I did not hold them accountable (by requiring them to self-report their completion) for returning an evaluation.

I deem this semester’s experiment a failure.  Even though I received good quality feedback, the rate of return was too low for my taste. But, several pleasant surprises and good experiences with this format make me want to try it again next semester with some tweaks. Continue reading

Informal Evaluations: My Forgetfulness Spawns an Experiment

I completely missed my traditional time for doing informal evaluations (week 5 of the semester). So, this semester I’m going to experiment with having students do them online.  I know the “studies show” that giving dedicated time during class highlights the value I give these evaluations. But, I’m fiddling around with ways to still get students to (1) complete them, (2) take them seriously, and (3) not take class time.  First, a few comments on why these evaluations have been crucial to my development as a teacher… Continue reading